Posted August 27, 2021

Distributors charged in bribery and theft scheme

by Rich Vurva, Industrial Supply

Two distributors have been charged in a bribery and theft scheme involving the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Bridges and Buildings Department.

According to a criminal information filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Philadelphia, Mark Irvello, 56, owner of MSI Tool Repair and Supply in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and Stanley Woloff, 58, of Advantage Industrial Supply, located in Philadelphia, are among nine defendants charged with bribery and fraud offenses.

The complaints allege that at various times from 2013 through 2019, management-level employees working in SEPTA’s Bridges and Buildings Department engaged in bribery and theft schemes with two SEPTA vendors, defendants Mark Irvello of MSI Tool Repair and Supply (MSI), and Stanley Woloff of Advantage Industrial Supply (AIS).

The BBD is responsible for maintaining, repairing, and renovating SEPTA facilities throughout the southeastern Pennsylvania region. To facilitate this work, SEPTA issues procurement cards, or P-Cards, to management-level employees working in the BBD. The P-Cards, which operate as SEPTA credit cards, are to be used for purchasing items needed for the legitimate work of the BBD.

In about 2013, David Abell, who was a Senior Director of Maintenance at SEPTA, agreed with Irvello and Woloff to exploit the P-Card system for their mutual benefit. Abell solicited the vendors to provide him with regular cash payments of approximately $1,000 to $2,000 per month. In exchange for those payments, the vendors falsely billed SEPTA through the P-Card system for items that the vendor was not providing to SEPTA. The vendors combined legitimate with fraudulent billing, making the scheme difficult to detect.

At various times, beginning around 2014, several other SEPTA BBD managers allegedly began engaging in similar fraud activity with Irvello and Woloff.

In connection with this scheme, the vendor companies owned by defendants Irvello and Woloff each became one of SEPTA’s largest billers through the P-Card system. In doing so, Irvello defrauded SEPTA of more than $540,000, and Woloff defrauded SEPTA of more than $330,000, according to the complaint.

If convicted, each defendant faces maximum sentences of at least 20 and as much as 40 years in prison.